Maximizing calorie burn


In my blogpost “Just because when you trained hard enough part I and part II(which can be found here: Part I Part II, I did mini experiments regarding the predicted calorie burn my resistance training bouts can potentially expend. At the end of that blogpost, I mentioned that NEAT or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis is underrated in terms of potential amount of calories that can be burned doing such activities. Using my bodybugg SP, I’ve conducted mini experiments again but this time, I measured the calories I burned doing NEAT. NEAT are almost any physical activities that we do on a non-exercise setting such as walking our dog, climbing the stairs, fidgeting, bathing, recreational activities such as playing with the kids, picking up objects, strolling in the park, washing the dishes, cleaning the house, doing yard work, etc. I hope you get my point.

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Grocery shopping is a NEAT.

We went to Walmart yesterday and since NEAT is a type of activity everyone does on an everyday basis, I measured my predicted calorie burn:

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My body weight is 132 lbs. and according to my bodybugg SP, for a 30-minute Walmart browsing, I expended 100 calories. So, what’s the big deal? Let’s do some math: if I can burn 100 calories per 30 mins, in 2-3 hours grocery shopping, I can burn about 400-600 calories! That’s even a lot more calories that I can burn than doing my upper body resistance training program. I even tested the calories I can burn shopping in the mall today(I really didn’t buy anything except for one $10 t-shirt) but the point is to simulate the setting of a typical mall shopping:

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As you can see above, I burned 263 calories just by walking and window shopping in the mall plus my family and I had fun. Again, let’s do some math: if I could burn let’s say 250 calories per 1 1/2 hour and I strolled in the mall for 3 hours, that would be: 250 x 2 = 500 calories burned while shopping. To prevent myself from forcing myself to move more to increase the calorie burn effect, I didn’t even checked my phone monitor(that’s where I check the calories I burn in real time). I did my best to simulate a free-living setting that is really happening in reality. Going to the mall is actually good for far loss. However, the problem is when we go to the mall, there are also several calorie-dense foods tempting us. My personal tip is strategic planning such as eating at home prior to go shopping. Although there are low-calorie food options that are offered in the malls, many people aren’t aware of the smart food choices. If you really wish to get something to eat, a skinless grilled chicken and some steamed veggies are your best options.

I did not write this post to compare exercise versus NEAT so please do not fall into the conclusion that exercise is not important in weight management because anyway it doesn’t burn that many calories. I simply made the comparison because many people thinks that we only burn tremendous amount if calories while we are doing exercise. NEAT’s importance in a long-term weight management just doesn’t deserve to be underrated. In fact, NEAT activities can be done so often anywhere at anytime of the day. Another importance of cranking up our NEAT is when a person’s body weight is already light to begin with(like me) and whose calorie intake is already low to maintain his/ her body weight, instead of decreasing the calorie intake even further, it’s a wiser idea to increase the calorie intake instead while increasing NEAT activities at the same time.

In my personal experience, moderate amount of NEAT activities plus a combination of regular exercise and a sound diet aids me to maintain my body weight more efficiently. Everything has it’s own place when it comes to successful weight management. We just need to be aware of what is too little and what is too much.

Part II

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  1. I’m enjoying this series of articles.
    It confirms what I thought for a long time, that we don’t burn much during exercise with weights (I have read people claiming that they probably burn 1000 calories on chest workout, what a joke) and that we burn a relevant amount of calories with NEAT.

    Would you mind testing how many calories are burned with 30 minutes of traditional videogames (not wii stuff)? I bet it’s not that low as we believe.

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